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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Chelsea can take giant stride towards the title

City concede too many goals

Eden Hazard is Chelsea's main creative influence
1 of 1

Premier League
BT Sport 1, 8pm Wednesday

Chelsea's procession towards the Premier League title was interrupted by Saturday's shock 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace but the Blues should get back on track by defeating Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Had the Blues beaten Palace they might have taken the view that a point against City would be a good result. But a stalemate doesn't look so acceptable now.

City's slim title hopes probably disappeared with their 2-2 draw at Arsenal but Tottenham are only seven points behind the leaders and will be looking to pile on the pressure by winning at Swansea.

It is Chelsea's title to lose but if the gap to Spurs was reduced from ten points to four or five in the space of five days, it would test the Blues' mental strength.

The best way of avoiding all that is to defeat City and Chelsea look capable of getting the job done.

There wasn't a lot wrong with their performance against Palace. They created a host of chances and were denied by a combination of poor finishing and brilliant goalkeeping from Wayne Hennessey.

And they didn't cope very well with an inspired Wilfried Zaha but that is no disgrace considering the startling improvements the Palace attacker has made this season.

City possess a lot more attacking threats than Palace do but none of their individuals have been playing to the level Zaha reached at the weekend.

Their 2-2 draw a Arsenal was nowhere near as entertaining as the score suggests.

Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero supplied good finishes but City had a problem down their right defensive flank, where Jesus Navas had a first-half nightmare at full back, and they were less dynamic after the break with substitute Yaya Toure often slowing the game down.

There was little tempo to the game after Shkodran Mustafi's 53rd-minute header levelled the scores at 2-2 and neither team seemed prepared to take a gamble in search of victory.

Given that City seemed to settle for a draw at the Emirates, it shouldn't be a surprise if they adopt a similar attitude at Chelsea.

The rest of their season is all about finishing in the top four and a point at Chelsea would keep them ticking over, safe in the knowledge that easier fixtures are on the horizon.

Getting that point will be easier said than done though.

City will face a stronger rearguard than they were up against on Sunday so it is imperative they tighten up in defence.

They dominated for large parts of the reverse fixture at the Etihad and lost 3-1 because they were poor in both boxes.

The midfield will be more evenly contested this time so City's porous defence is going to come under greater pressure.

Chelsea peppered the Palace goal at the weekend and came up against defenders who were happy to put their bodies on the line.

Most teams who win titles have players who enjoy the art of defending but City haven't had that since Vincent Kompany was a regular in their line-up.

Kompany was on the bench at Arsenal and is an option to come into the side but has made just three league appearances this season and is unlikely to be seen at his best until he gets a run of games under his belt.

City have struggled to keep up with Chelsea in the title race because they have conceded 32 goals, nine more than the Blues and 11 more than Tottenham.

And their defensive problems look likely to open the door for Chelsea to seal a 23rd league win of the season.

Recommendation
Chelsea
1pt 7-5 general

Bet on this game at soccerbase.com


Team news
Chelsea
Victor Moses missed training at the start of the week and is a major doubt. Pedro stands by to deputise for a second successive match.

Manchester City
Vincent Kompany was back on the City bench at Arsenal but hasn't played since January. Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus remain on the sidelines.

Key stat
Chelsea have won 16 of their 18 home matches this season.

City have struggled to keep up with Chelsea in the title race because they have conceded 32 goals, nine more than the Blues
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